Not long after Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle woke up Wednesday morning, he discovered that the Houston Rockets had fired coach Kevin McHale.
“It’s preposterous,” Carlisle said. “It’s beyond belief. I’m really shocked. It’s just hard to believe that something like that could happen at this stage.
“The guy took the team unexpectedly to the conference finals last year, and to have this happen after 11 games, preposterous is the only word that I can come up with.”
It’s preposterous. It’s beyond belief. I’m really shocked. It’s just hard to believe that something like that could happen at this stage.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle on the Rockets firing Kevin McHale
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The Rockets advanced to last year’s Western Conference Finals but were a disappointing 4-7 this season. They also became the first team in NBA history to open a season by losing three straight games by at least 20 points.
Mavs forward Chandler Parsons played his first three NBA seasons with the Rockets under McHale, and he believes more people should be held accountable.
“He’s an unbelievable guy and one of my favorite coaches I’ve ever played for, and definitely one that’s positive,” Parsons said. “He’s one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, so I feel terrible for him.
“Six months ago, they’re in the conference finals, and a year ago he signed an extension. I’m not really sure why [McHale got fired], but obviously they’re struggling a little bit. But it’s hard to think all of that is his fault.”
Three of Houston’s losses this season were by 20 points, and two others were by more 12 or more points.
Mavs owner Mark Cuban, who’s had more than his share of battles with Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, took no delight in what happened to McHale.
“I like Kevin,” Cuban said. “I feel bad for him personally. The rest of it — whatever.”
Carlisle and McHale are longtime friends, winning an NBA title together as players in 1986 with the Celtics. So when Carlisle had to think about one of his close friends losing his job, it cut really deep.
“I don’t expect it; nobody expects this,” Carlisle said. “It’s very disappointing to hear, but Kevin will be fine. He’s got a lot of time to rest and relax, and there will be a lot of people wanting to hire him — I can tell you that.”
Crowder on Mavs
Jae Crowder never really wanted to leave Dallas.
But when the Mavs traded Crowder to Boston last December, it was probably the best thing that’s happened in his NBA career.
The 6-foot-6 swingman has flourished since the trade, and the Celtics rewarded him with a five-year, $35 million contract this past summer.
They appreciate my work and what I bring to the team.
Celtics forward Jae Crowder
“They appreciate my work and what I bring to the team,” said Crowder, who played for the Mavs from 2012 until the trade. “I just needed a place to call home at the time — the situation I was in.”
Cuban was fond of Crowder but saw the Marquette product as a valuable trade chip.
“We love Jae, but Jae wasn’t playing 30 minutes a game,” Cuban said. “He probably was our most tradeable asset last year. I keep in touch with him — we text now and then. I still give him [a hard time] about only texting in caps.”
▪ Forward Charlie Villanueva was not with the team for Wednesday’s game. He was in Dallas for the birth of his second child, a daughter name Aliyah Cruz Villanueva.
▪ The Mavs play one home game — Friday against Utah — before hitting the road for games against Oklahoma City, Memphis and San Antonio.